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" Righteous or Sinner? "

In a recent communication with someone on the internet, I asked the question. Quote: "You speak of following the Lord. I would assume that you would call yourself a 'Christian?' So, for definition of terms, how would you describe a 'Christian?' What is a Christian? What does it take to become one?"

The response came, "I define a Christian, generally, as a disciple of Christ...someone who follows his [sic] teachings..his [sic] example. More specifically...living a certain life-style. ...I apply the principles of Christ in my everyday life. A principle I have had to work on is loving my neighbor as myself. The problem seems to be that I had it a bit twisted... I could not easily love MOST of my neighbors, and I sure had a hard time loving myself. I knew that I could never truly be of service to those around me until I learned to love myself... to see what was lovable about me...I know who my Source is...I know that I'm loved beyond belief!!!"

Typical of how MOST today would respond, it is preached from the pulpits. Proclaimed by psychology, it is the basis for most New Age beliefs. Includes the name "Christ." It talks of following Christ. Putting faith into action, proclaiming the Second Greatest Commandment... "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mk12:31) One is loved by an ill-defined "Source." (a "higher power") One can now love one's SELF.

Perhaps this is how YOU view Christianity? Perhaps this is what has been preached to you?

Dear Reader, let me ask you a very serious question: ...Have you ever heard the Gospel of Salvation?

Have you heard Jesus came to die for "sinners?" Paul wrote, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1Tim1:15)

Modern New Age Psychology has infiltrated the "church" and changed the doctrine of salvation to where people are "feeling good about themselves." But the prophet Isaiah said, "We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.." (Isa64:6)

Paul writes about the "Christian" ..."if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." (2Cor5:17)

To be "in Christ" means, among other things, to agree with what Jesus taught. Jesus made the claim, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick...I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Lk5:31-32) And to Peter he said, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." (Jn13:8)

In other words...if a person is ALREADY "lovable" and wonderful, they don't need to be cleansed by Jesus' blood...and thus, are not "saved." Are not "in Christ." And will not be invited into the "place" He is "preparing for them."(Jn 14:3)

Let's look at John 3:36 a moment: "He who believes in the son...[that He died for sinners when we were "without ability to save ourselves"(Rom5:6)] ...has everlasting life; And he who does not believe the Son...[he thinks he's already wonderful and full of worth and lovableness..and doesn't need saving] ...shall not see life, but the Wrath of God abides on him."

SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNTS of people Being Saved usually involved the person seeing God and Jesus for Who they are. Righteous, holy, awesome, powerful, unapproachable light.(Isa6:1-4,Rev1:12-16,Acts9:3)

Then, they saw themselves in their nothingness. Isaiah wails, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." John, the disciple "whom Jesus loved," who "was leaning on Jesus' bosom" at the Last Supper, "fell at His feet as dead" when he saw Jesus in His glory.

In recognizing his guilt, Saul, the persecutor, received Jesus' reprimand, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads." As Peter preached at Pentecost, illustrating the sin of his audience by reminding them that THEY had crucified Jesus, the Lord and Christ; "they were cut to the heart, and said...what shall we do?" (Acts2:37) They were in- structed to "repent."

Possibly the most appropriate illustration of the difference between modern "feel good" theology and true "Biblical Salvation" is the story Jesus told almost 2000 years ago. It is found in Luke 18:9-14.

A Pharisee and tax collector both went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee was the "elite" spiritual leader. He was a "good man." Knew all the verses to all the songs. Knew just how to pray in "King James'ese." Was politically correct in all he preached. And most of all, he REALLY LOVED HIMSELF... and was PROUD of it. He was assured of his "Rightful Place" in heaven because he was "Worth It."

The tax collector was the "scum of the earth." Looked down upon by all. Was rather crude and coarse...and the words out of his mouth were vile. And, coming to "God's presence" he bows to the dirt, beats his breast, and cries out, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner. I don't have any right to expect that You, a holy God would even pay any attention to me. I don't deserve your grace. But, if You could see to it somehow...I know that Jesus came to die for the sins of the world. I'm a sinner. Would it be possible for some of that blood to be accounted to me?"

Jesus said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other."

Man says, "I'm full of goodness and of great value." God says, "Your goodness is like a [dirty rotten smelling] rag, when compared to My holiness." Man says, "I have learned to Love Myself, because I am lovable." Jesus said, "He who loves his life will lose it." (Jn12:25)

People say they "follow Jesus' teachings." Jesus taught, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mt16:24)

To "deny" one's self is the opposite of "self-worth" and "loving self." To "take up his cross" is to lay his life on the line. Those who are "worth" so much, seek self-preservation. Confronted with God's glory, Job uttered in despair, "I ABHOR myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:6)

If you are ALREADY "righteous" remember Jesus' words to Peter, "You have no part with Me." Many will say, "Lord, Lord didn't we in Your Name...?" And He promised He will respond, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Mt7:23)

If you want Jesus to "receive you to" Himself (Jn14:3), you must let Jesus wash you, because you are "dirty" ...with sin. "..according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (Tit 3:5)

The first question you must ask of yourself... Are you Right- eous? ..or a Sinner? Remember; you cannot become righteous until you have FIRST been a sinner.

The promise: "..the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1Jn1:7)

Amen!


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